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Wireless Networking Communications Hardware

Skype Asks FCC to Open Cellular Networks 292

Milwaukee's_Best writes "Skype has just asked the FCC to force wireless phone companies to open their networks to all comers. Skype essentially wants to turn the wireless phone companies into just another network of the kind currently operated on the ground. This would require carriers to allow any phone to be used on their networks, and for any application. Users would simply purchase a voice or data plan (though these could easily converge into a data plan if VoIP calling is used) and then use the device of their choice to access the network of their choice. Think of it as network neutrality for cell networks. Given the competition that exists within the industry, is this needed?"
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Skype Asks FCC to Open Cellular Networks

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  • by wasabii ( 693236 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:00AM (#18104962)
    This is nothing but Skype trying to get the government to regulate a market for itself. If the cell provides saw business benefit in opening their network, they would do so. As it is now, they own the equipment because they paid to build it. They are free to do whatever they feel they can to capitalize on their investments. So as a humble user who wants to chat on IRC over a wireless carrier.... who am I to MANDATE to these sovereign owners any sorts of conditions?

    Bah to this proposal!
  • go go go (Score:3, Insightful)

    by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:02AM (#18104970) Homepage
    Skype essentially wants to turn the wireless phone companies into just another network of the kind currently operated on the ground.

    Yes, and the kind currently operated on the ground are facing a dead-end business model.
  • by elronxenu ( 117773 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:05AM (#18104992) Homepage
    Sounds like a great idea.

    Skype should go first, by documenting their protocols and allowing 3rd party clients to connect to the Skype network.

  • by Scareduck ( 177470 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:08AM (#18105010) Homepage Journal
    "Network neutrality" in the case of the Internet is about customers' traffic getting the usual "common carrier" treatment. In the case of the Skype proposal, it's nothing less than an attempt to get something (access to cell towers and related equipment) for nothing (without having to pay for it). The writeup is both disturbing and misleading.
  • Competition? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShaunC ( 203807 ) * on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:10AM (#18105018)

    Given the competition that exists within the industry, is this needed?

    Competition? As in where I get to choose from one of [Verizon|Cingular|Sprint], all of which charge mostly the same, and whichever one I pick, I'm either stuck with them for 2 years or stuck paying exorbitant fees to "fire" them and switch to one of their clones? I'm intentionally glossing over the prepaid services (Virgin Mobile, for example) because they tend to piggyback on other carriers' networks (Virgin is actually Sprint's network, so in essence if you use Virgin Mobile, you're really using Sprint).

    Saying there's real competition in the wireless industry is like saying that because Sony, BMG, and Warner all make CDs, there's "real competition" in that industry. Cable companies were forced to accept all comers (see Time Warner's cables being used by Earthlink, often at a lower fee than TW's RoadRunner service) - and hell, my cable company doesn't even lock me into a 2-year contract...
  • If the cell provides saw business benefit in opening their network, they would do so.

    And if Ford saw business benefit to requiring Ford Gasoline in their engines, they would want to do so as well. Or if they wanted to create the Ford Expressway, allowing only Fords to be driven upon it.

    Skype is arguing that we'll have a better wireless system if we have an wholly integrated wireless system -- that the spectrum, as a common good, should be shared in an open manner.

    This isn't exactly rocket science or "New Deal" style expansion of government power. It's a request for a federal agency to take a look at the market, and do what it is legislatively required to do.

    (And you don't get a vote on this. The entire reason for the FCC is to insulate the descision about the airwaves from politics.)
  • by wallior ( 617195 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:13AM (#18105044) Homepage
    Completely agree. This request is disgustingly hypocritical. In Australia and UK (I think UK) Hutchison (3) will eventually used Skype for data calls across their network. You can bet that Skype won't be pushing for openness on these networks.
  • by Creepy Crawler ( 680178 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:14AM (#18105056)
    The real question here is whether it is in the public interest to have a heavily fragmented market of incompatible cellular networking.

    Yes, it is their equipment, but it would be illegal to use it on public airspace. Is it in our best interest to allow companies to sell back what was once a public commons?
  • by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:15AM (#18105058) Homepage Journal

    If the cell provides saw business benefit in opening their network, they would do so.
    Obviously. The whole point of regulation, however, is that if the only thing guiding your actions is "business benefit", it'll often lead you to trash the commons or screw people over some other way. For example, if dirty factories could save money by polluting less, we wouldn't need environmental regulations - but in fact polluting less tends to cost more, so we impose regulations to give them an incentive to do it.
  • by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:24AM (#18105116) Homepage Journal

    And the problem here is exactly what? It sounds to me like Skype is saying, "Hey guys, if you let us use your networks we'll undercut all your prices and undermine your business models. Then all that money you spent to build out your cellular networks will benefit us instead of you! Deal?"
    I don't think so. It looks like they just want the carriers to stop restricting equipment and applications. The carriers would still charge for access to the network, kilobyte usage, etc. but without any limitations on which phones you can activate or what you can do with the kilobytes you're paying for.
  • no competition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brat Food ( 9397 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:29AM (#18105150) Homepage
    I personally dont think theres any cell phone competition in the US.

    I mean look, my cell phone bill has never /really/ gone down. My minutes have gone up slightly for the price, but with the ubiquity, thats the least they could do.

    These guys charge for things that barely use infrastructure thats already up (10c a text message? cmon).

    They dont compete directly on price either. Or service. You can never have it all with these guys, its al a carte and they take you to the bank.

    They neuter phones, and find other great ways to take your money.

    If there was competition, wed all be paying $40 or less for /every/ feature.

    If the cell band opens up, the cell companies are screwed. People will come along and offer service and make a reasonable profit for 1/4 of the prices offered now.

    Sorry for the tired, bitter, rant.
  • by zarthrag ( 650912 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:31AM (#18105174)
    What do WiFi and Bluetooth have to do with running Skype over a cellular network? This sounds like a red herring to allow them to start talking about "crippling" again. How have the carriers "crippled" their WiFi-enabled phones anyway? This one I have not heard of.

    By disabling features such as OBEX push/file transfer, you can be kept from sending files directly from one phone to another, or another computer...without using your cellular modem (possibly at a per-KB rate). Moving pictures/video from your camera would then become a costly affair if you actually use that feature often.

    Wifi generally cannot be used for voip at all. This isn't necessairly crippling, but a complete oversight of what consumers want. I have a wireless network at home, why can't my phone support using it instead of a per-minute rate when I'm here, or at work, or at the bookstore.

    By opening the network, device makers can be free to innovate in ways that will make the iPhone look like a turd on the sidewalk.

  • by mpesce ( 146930 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:37AM (#18105206) Homepage
    Please do not confuse a free market with an anti-market. Something that is as highly controlled (rightly or wrongly) as the radio spectrum doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of being a free market. This is, in fact, nearly the textbook definition of an anti-market, where economic entities collude with governments to retain market control.

    If you want real free markets, then you don't regulate at all. No spectrum allocations, no power regulations, nothing. Of course, that's chaos. So what do we do? We use governmental institutions to balance the needs of all stakeholders. And Skype is quite definitely a stakeholder in this area.

    Everyone, everywhere, needs more competition; that's not just a good idea, it's a Natural Law. Eventually, the telcos will learn this.
  • by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:44AM (#18105240) Homepage Journal

    And if Ford saw business benefit to requiring Ford Gasoline in their engines, they would want to do so as well. Or if they wanted to create the Ford Expressway, allowing only Fords to be driven upon it.

    It's seems unlikely that anyone would want to buy Ford cars, if they did that.

    It does seem unusual, doesn't it, that consumers would continue to choose a product when it continually locks them in tighter and tighter to the MotherCorp? It is, alas, not at all unlikely. Standard Oil, Microsoft and AT&T are all textbook cases wherein people continue(d) buying a product that ultimately cost them more than the alternative.

    The market is not free, practically speaking. There is a constant need to outside forces to provide a tempering influence on some of its worst excesses. Government is not a good candidate for this role, but it's the best available candidate, I'm afraid to say.

  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:52AM (#18105284) Homepage
    We keep coming up on this question since the divestiture of AT&T by Judge Green in 1984. The problem with current carriers is that they want to control the transport, and the value that can be added. This really is the same debate as breaking the stranglehold on the local loop. He who controls the last mile wins!
  • by amRadioHed ( 463061 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @01:01AM (#18105340)
    True, but they couldn't have made a useful network without the government's assistance. If everyone was able to their own radio devices and broadcast one whatever frequencies they wanted then the airwaves would be a useless mess. The government has put regulations in place in order for radio to be a usable medium and exchange people and companies who are given license to broadcast on part of the spectrum have to play by the governments rules. It's a fair trade I'd say.
  • by Bluesman ( 104513 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @01:02AM (#18105342) Homepage
    Supply and demand.

    There is only so much bandwidth available on a cellular system, as the frequencies at which you may transmit are limited (extremely limited, I might add).

    The frequencies sent over cables are not regulated, so you can multiplex to your heart's content and achieve massive bandwidth that way. (It also helps that there's much less interference and loss in wired communication.)

    The reason the wireless phone service price hasn't changed is because if it got any cheaper, the network would become saturated because people wouldn't self-limit their phone usage as much. The reason that all phone companies charge about the same is more due to the physics of radio communication than collusion. I guarantee that if Cingular could charge half of what they do and still make a profit, they would, because they'd put all the others out of business, and it's a very competitive market.

    The phone companies know exactly how many users they can support at what data rates down to insane degrees of accuracy. There are ugly equations with many logarithms and square roots in them that tell them this.

    For example, you can determine, based on the frequencies you're allocated and how you're multiplexing your users' data, what signal-to-interference ratio you need to support 336 users with a 2% chance of a dropped call during the peak usage hour.

    The problem is, you can't just add network capacity without limit. It's a tradeoff between cell size, signal strength, and interference. Decreasing cell size might give you the ability to support more users, but you'll also have to decrease the signal strength at the same time or you'll just be adding interference. Using directional antennas will help with the interference problem, but you'll have to handle many more hand-offs and overall QoS may suffer.

    Whereas, with wired communication, if you have one wire and then you add another, you've just doubled your bandwidth. Wireless is a much more limited resource, and always will be.
  • by MEForeman ( 930504 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @01:23AM (#18105464) Journal
    Why won't this happen? Because Verizon, Sprint/Nextel, AT&T/Cingular will not let their networks be opened. These companies spent truckloads of money building networks that they will not let be taken away and I cannot see an administrative agency getting any sort of go ahead to do this.

    Is it a good idea? No. They are private networks and they should not be taken away from their owners.
  • by WafflesMcDuff ( 791660 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @01:29AM (#18105486)
    The fact is, with the way the major carriers are at this point it would be IMPOSSIBLE to integrate all the networks so that so long as there is a tower in range of your phone, your phone will work despite what carrier owns the tower or what carrier provides your service....

    Because when it comes down to it all the major carriers use completely different signal types:

    Sprint: CDMA*
    Nextel: iDen
    Verizon: TDMA/EvDO*
    Cingular/AT&T Wireless: GSM

    *I could have these two switched but I don't feel that double checking this detail is necessary to make my point as the general idea remains the same.

    When it comes down to it you cannot unify the cell phone networks the way the landline networks have been unified....
    The landline networks all use essentially the same protocol for communication. POTS (plain old telephone service)

    And THEY'RE not even actually integrated! If the lines going to my house were put in by Verizon originally and I want AT&T to be my local and long distance provider, Verizon still comes in and runs the line from the pole to the network interface jack. The only difference is AT&T pays them to do it! Then an AT&T guy comes in (and if you live in the sticks it's a subcontractor not even a real AT&T guy) and does my inside wiring and then syncs me to the VERIZON network. However, the verizon account attached to my home phone line is billed to AT&T instead of me and then AT&T bills me in turn.

    Isn't legislation great?! People demand to be able to choose whatever service they damn well please. this makes sense and is fair. but rather than investigating feasibility, the lawmakers said "YES! THIS IS IMPORTANT! SO IT IS WRITTEN SO IT SHALL BE DONE!" and POOF! they all integrate with a snap of some congressman's fingers! Right?! Wrong... instead all the phone companies had to come up with a scheme to give people a choice using hardware that wasn't really designed for this.... and so you wind up with a kluged* together billing and passing system. And the only reason it works is because the technology is all the same and so when your bill comes from AT&T you don't know that Verizon still owns the wire and AT&T is just acting as a middle man now and offering you their (very similar) plans.
    *Kluge: To force something to work by cobbling it together poorly... think of forcing the square peg into the round hole. That's kluging.

    So let's get back to cell phones... without the same hardware you can't even begin to try to kluge it the same way. In my honest opinion, Skype has opened a can of worms that if the FCC sides with them, we'll feel the pain from for years to come as the cell phone companies scramble to comply with an outrageous demand.
  • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Thursday February 22, 2007 @01:33AM (#18105500) Homepage Journal
    Oh, I think they'd sell a lot of Fords. You just have to imagine the big picture of a Libertarian private roadway scenario.

    Ford Expressways, GM Streets and Chrysler Highways are usually four lanes wide, nicely maintained and have a practical speed limit of 80 MPH, and cost $100 per month. Daewoo Roadways are constantly mocked by late-night TV comedians for being slow and narrow, and they almost never go exactly where you want them to, but they only cost $20 per month to use. Just for the elite, let's say Lamborghini has a small system of double-lane highly elevated roadways that let their drivers reach speeds of over 200 MPH, but cost in the neighborhood of $10,000 per month. For the many places they don't serve, they have an arrangement with the big three to let their drivers use their roads.

    Finally, there are public access streets that are little more than overcrowded, rutted, muddy, pot-holed goat trails, but they're free. Because the motoring public shuns them, they never get enough funding to fix them up, and so they remain the last roadways available to the poor.

    You'd most likely buy a Ford (or GM or Chrysler) because that's what the vast majority of ordinary people use, and the roads are both cost effective and superior to the cheaper alternatives. You'd probably pick a car manufacturer based on whose roads carried you closest to your home and work, and what kind of discounts the dealer was willing to throw in. (And Eric Raymond would be out there encouraging people to buy and drive road graders in their spare time, but now I've carried the analogy too far.)

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @01:37AM (#18105520) Homepage Journal
    "Free market libertarian" wants to let the AT&T/Verizon(/Qwest) cartel sell themselves access at puny wholesale rates, but competitors should pay prohibitively inflated retail? Similarly huge-scale competitors like the other 2 of the 3 can equalize roaming charges, but small competitors will never afford to get access?

    Libertarians are people who believe in the minimum government possible, but no less. Free marketeers are people who believe that markets work best with the fewest barriers to competition. Free market libertarians recognize that people create governments as our only remedy to monopoly market abuse.

    The term you're searching for to describe yourself is "monopolist corporate greedhead".
  • It worked for MCI (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2007 @01:42AM (#18105556)
    Skype is trying to go down the path trod by MCI back in the day where it used a combination of litigation and whining at the government to convince them that the only way to "protect" consumers from the big, bad meanie that was until recently Ma Bell was to force AT&T to allow MCI to use their existing infrastructure for free, so that a competitor stood a chance of getting their foot in the door.

    Going on thirty years later, we've all seen how well this particular arrangement has benefited consumers.

    More to the point, Skype doesn't even have the old telephone/Internet argument that the American government or public at large has directly paid for the construction of the current US cellular network. The private firms and their customers have paid that as a cost of doing business.

    Even though I don't use VOIP, I've held these companies in fairly high esteem up until now. But after this, I'm classifying Skype with the same bozos who write botting programs for MMORPGs. Quit leeching off other people's work and start a real business, jackholes.
  • by tsa ( 15680 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @01:45AM (#18105570) Homepage
    If the cell provides saw business benefit in opening their network, they would do so.

    This is exactly why America has, IMO, the most retarded mobile communications systems in the world. From the article:

    Skype essentially wants to turn the wireless phone companies into just another network of the kind currently operated on the ground. This would require carriers to allow any phone to be used on their networks, and for any application. Users would simply purchase a voice or data plan (though these could easily converge into a data plan if VoIP calling is used) and then use the device of their choice to access the network of their choice. Verizon, Cingular, et al. hate this and would love to keep crippling WiFi and Bluetooth access on their phones in order to keep traffic flowing through their network, using their (high-priced) services.

    Here in Europe there are organizations that keep the playing field level, by forcing mobile service providers to do just what Skype asks. Here it doesn't really matter which provider you chose; the're all good because they all have to compete in the same playing field. Why should it matter for a provider what 'type' of data is sent over their network, and by what device this data is sent? Data is data, and the more bits they transport the more money they get. Apparently in America this isn't so. Amazing.
  • Re:Libertarians (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2007 @01:50AM (#18105586)

    I lost all respect for Libertarians after I heard one complain about how his town wouldn't plow his private drive.

    So you lost all respect for Libertarians when one person identifying him- or herself as a Libertarian made a single complaint. Of course, you have given no context for the complaint, so we have no way to determine the reasonableness of the complaint for ourselves. The end result here is an ad hominem argument apparently based on your own prejudices. Don't be surprised if you lose some respect here.

    Grossly abused the workforce- preferring to employ children and women, who had little socio-political power and thus were easy to control and work to death.
    We call them Mexicans now. Thank god for regulation!

    Polluted the hell out of groundwater and rivers by dumping their byproducts whereever they pleased, consequences be damned.
    Regulation means they are allowed to do this to an extent and cannot be sued. Yeah for regulation!

    Today's working conditions are what they are, purely because the government has raised the bar (slowly) on how workers may be treated after public outcry forced legislation.
    How exactly is this better than the same public choosing not to do business with said businesses? We end up with a lazier consumer class, a more powerful government, and corporations which - for the most part - are still motivated to do anything they can within (and sometimes without) the confines of the law. Where consumer activism would have given us corporations which realized they must act in socially acceptable ways, government only gives us corporations which can be extreme sociopaths as long as everything they are doing is legal.

  • It's sort of a shame you used a car analogy because this being slashdot, everyone got on board with that. The really insightful part of your post, and the one that should be discussed is this:

    the spectrum, as a common good, should be shared in an open manner.
    That's the refutation to the argument that cell companies shouldn't play because they built the infrastructure. The deal is, they built the infrastructure on a property we all own. It reminds me of something I once heard Utah Phillips complain about (paraphrasing here): the federal government leases our assets to companies who then turn around and sell back to us the stuff we already own at a profit to themselves. He said it much better and more humurously.
  • by vic-traill ( 1038742 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @02:05AM (#18105642)

    Bah - here come the arguments by analogy. Yegads!

    But first, on topic stuff:

    TFA notes that Skype's motivation is clear - to boldly place their traffic where its traffic has not gone before. Not argument here from me.

    My understanding of regulation in the land-line telecommunications world is that it was driven by the desire to enable service additions and competition in a business where there were - and maybe still are - significant barriers to entry. It's expensive to get into the telecommunications business, and when long-standing infrastructure is in place, it makes sense to ensure access to that infrastructure is available to competitors, given fair remuneration for the incumbent. The alternative is duplication of infrastructure - for example, last mile cable - which is bone-headed and, as noted, expensive. Regulate for re-selling of that infrastructure. You get competition which is a Good Thing, which should be fair, encourage innovation, etc. and the incumbent opens an additional revenue stream via the re-sale.

    I think it is a fair comment to say that these barriers are not the same for a wireless service. The physical transport - the atmosphere - is already there, so it's not a question of a barrier to entry as a result of cost, at least not in the same way or to the same extent as it is with land infrastructure.

    However the spectrum is a shared medium - that's what removes the cost barrier above. Just because someone occupies that shared medium before you do, should they gain an element of exclusivity? I say no. Of course, everyone can start banging their service out over the spectrum, but this doesn't scale, I don't think. Sooner or later, we reach a limit on the co-occupation of the spectrum. I don't know enough about RF communications to know where or when this is, and as such I may get hammered here. If service providers can reasonably co-occupy the spectrum, then this house is made of cards and no doubt someone will tell me.

    So if co-occupation if a problem, then a regulatory mechanism to force resale of infrastructure is reasonable.

    But Skype doesn't want resale - it wants unencumbered use for customers on wireless networks so that its service can operate in this space. This desire sits at the core of net neutrality, and I'm for it. The service provider is paid for the user's access to the transport, and as long as this is the case, it's none of the service provider's business what I choose to put on the 'line'. You're getting paid for your minutes - don't tell me what I can or cannot say or do.


    Re: arguing by analogy - I can hear the 'you must be new here comments', etc. already, but what the hell. Argument by analogy is attractive because it can help others understand the *concept* of what is being discussed or asserted. But it doesn't *prove* anything - it's just a method to clarify. And mainly, it just leads to people trying to talk about one thing by talking about something else. Predictably, this takes you, well ... somewhere else.

    I'm not flaming here - but for god's sakes, what do Ford cars and Chevy highways have to do with Skye, net neutrality, or whatever? And moderators seem to encourage it - got a Good Analogy? That's +5: Insightful, baby! So you can't even configure your way out of it.

  • by robbiedo ( 553308 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @02:40AM (#18105804)
    Ayn Rand would just love you to pieces!
  • by Nataku564 ( 668188 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @03:11AM (#18105950)
    The governement does manage land. We pay taxes on our land - roughlay analagous to how the providers license the spectrum. The government does also maintain parks and other such public resources, much like how there are sections of the airwaves set aside for public use.
  • Re:no competition (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2007 @04:02AM (#18106154)
    There's competition, but instead of leading to lower prices, it leads to more and more useless services and features being piled on top of what you already have.
  • by amuzulo ( 643695 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @04:23AM (#18106254) Homepage
    How about the FCC making Skype open their protocol in exchange? This would be fair, right? :)
  • Re:Libertarians (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dk.r*nger ( 460754 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:24AM (#18107116)

    The key is to not think of it as "evil government regulation," but instead as "accounting for externalized costs so that the free market has accurate information."

    Or, as a more general statement: To think of government regulation as the last measure, not the first.
  • Re:You're spot on (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:19AM (#18107330)
    Excellent, well reasoned reply. Thank you.

    Except, of course, that it has absolutely nothing to do with the thread in question. Sometimes I think Slashdotters have the attention span of a flea. :-|
  • by indifferent children ( 842621 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:51AM (#18107516)
    Yes, we would be SO MUCH better off with the Government running it.....

    Your comment would be SO MUCH more insightful, if studies hadn't shown that many government-run socialized medicine systems provide better care than the US's private system, at about half the cost per citizen, per year.

  • Re:Libertarians (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ikoma Andy ( 41693 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:00AM (#18107964)

    I lost all respect for Libertarians after I heard one complain about how his town wouldn't plow his private drive.
    I lost all respect for Mexicans after I saw one steal a bike. Boy, that sounds intelligent, doesn't it?
  • by *weasel ( 174362 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:01AM (#18107968)
    Of course it shouldn't be free.

    But we shouldn't allow them to lock us into particular handsets - just because they don't want competition in that market. And we shouldn't allow them to block non-harmful forms of traffic they already support (data) for no reason other than they don't want competition from that market (VoIP).
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:04AM (#18108010) Homepage Journal

    This is nothing but Skype trying to get the government to regulate a market for itself. ... who am I to MANDATE to these sovereign owners any sorts of conditions?

    This is a reasonable position, except for one thing: libertarianism and the whole concept of sovereignty is antithetical to the very premise of the discussion! Once you start talking about highly regulated businesses such a cell network providers, it's already assumed that such positions are rejected.

    If you or I were allowed to open and operate a competing cell network right now, without having to beg government's permission, pay various fees and bribes, etc, then it would make sense that government has no right to interfere with how we use that network. But that's not the world we live in -- this is already a semi-public infrastructure, so squabbling over details of how the government, rather than the "owner", decides how it is used, is appropriate.

    I'm offended as well, by the idea that government might tell me what to do with my network. But these people knew what they were getting into, when they came crawling to the FCC on their hands and knees (with a bag full of cash) in the first place. If you think it is inappropriate for the FCC to tell these people how to use "their own" networks, then the first thing to do is to abolish the FCC. Get rid of the other 1000 things that government is already telling these people to do. Is drawing the line at 1001 things, really upholding libertarian principles?

  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:22AM (#18108156) Journal

    Given the competition that exists within the industry, is this needed?"

    Yes, for the simple reason that one must always buy a new cell phone if one wants to change providers. There is no reason for a cell phone to be locked to a service provider other than to "lock in" customers. Just like software and those proprietary file formats everyone hates so much.Cell phone companies use the "discount" on "their" cellphones to justify charging early termination fees. This keeps customers from switching companies and so companies can provide crappy service with little repercussion.

    If cell phones were unlocked, then there would be no reason for the high termination fees and one could take their cell phone with all the contacts, settings, etc, and use them on a competitor's service (assuming they are compatible services). The result would be companies providing better service.

  • by d3ac0n ( 715594 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @12:45PM (#18109864)

    More socialism. And don't mistake, what you are suggesting IS a form of socialism. While the doctors won't be directly employed by the government, the fact that the government would be the only payee is socialism and a serious mistake. Why? Because the government has a limited pot from which to draw funds to pay out for citizen's medical bills. What happens when the money runs out? There are only two choices at that point. Ration the health care, or raise taxes. Historically, the Canadian government has chosen to do BOTH.

    The U.S. system relies more on a capitalistic system to fund health care. It works quite well. It isn't perfect, but it is one of the best, if not the best systems around. Why? The national economy, via MULTIPLE payees, has a nearly unlimited pot of money to pay for health care. Thusly people are able to get the health treatment they need at prices they can afford. The only problem our system is having is a LACK of competition due to the government mandated health insurance, and government "price controls" (which always drive UP prices rather than hold them down.)

    I always hear liberals and socialists talk up Canada's socialized Health Care as if it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. As an Ex-Canadian now living in the Buffalo NY area, I can tell you it's not all that it's cracked up to be. It works just as badly as I described in my first paragraph, if not worse.

    One of the things that I hear about all the time from my doctor acquaintances is how more and more Canadians are coming to the Buffalo area for surgery. Why? Because they are getting rationed in Canada and are having to wait insanely long times to get lifesaving surgery. So long, in fact, that MANY people are dying before they can get the surgery they need! Many Canadians are now coming to Buffalo (and other border cities) and paying CASH to get their surgery done so they can live! If we end up getting socialized medicine here in the U.S. I don't know where they will go. I guess many more people on both sides of the border will just die waiting for surgery. Gee, that just makes me want socialism even more! NOT!

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus